Here is another fabulous guest post from Chloe. Chloe did her DTS with us, as well as the SOIYM (School of Innovative Youth Ministry). She’s a champion that came with vision, left with vision and continues today with vision! She is faithful and diligent, and I have no doubt that God will continually use this girl in incredible ways. Thanks heaps for sharing Chloe!
My only answer was that God had said so. At the time it made no sense, but now I start to see a real plan unfolding. Isn’t life with God amazing? He moves in ways we cannot understand – something I appreciate more with each passing day.
I love my hometown of Gloucester, NSW and always have. It is a beautiful little town with a population of 5,000 in the entire district, half of which live on farms and properties. I grew up in a family of 4 boys and 2 girls with the Barrington River in our backyard. Our parents loved God, and our home was regularly filled with other young people from our community, especially the youth group from our church. Coming into my DTS, I carried with me a strong relationship with God and a deep hunger for more. I wanted to know God, and I wanted to know what my future held.
My DTS was a time of real awakening in my faith. For the first time I felt the Father’s love in a passionate, all-encompassing way that changed my view on everything. As my relationship with God reached new depths, I found myself often thinking of those I had left behind at home.
Was this simply homesickness, or was this something more?
In the following year after my DTS, I sought to walk with God, one step at a time. I spent time in Thailand, teaching young Thai children English and learning to rely on God in the midst of complete loneliness. Then I returned to YWAM Newcastle to be a part of a secondary school – the School of Innovative Youth Ministry. During those six months, things became very clear.
God was calling me home to Gloucester.
Again the questions flooded in.
Why are you going to work with young people in such a small place? Surely it would be more effective to move to a larger city?
But God spoke to me loud and clear. It was these young people on my heart, and I could not remove the passion to share with them the hope I had found in Jesus.
In a miraculous turn of events, a position to work with youth in my local high school opened up at the completion of my time in Newcastle. I would be teaching Scripture classes to students aged 12 – 15, a total of 9 different classes. From my very first lesson, I was in love. In love with this place, in love with these young people and more deeply in love with a God who knows the desires in our hearts and delights in fulfilling them.
Eighteen months on, and I sit back in awe.
Only God could have written the story of my life so perfectly. Each day I get to spend with precious young people who are so hungry for truth. I love staying behind after class to answer questions about the goodness of God. I love sitting in the school toilets holding a heartbroken girl while she sobs and sharing with her that I know Someone who loves her, oh how He loves her.
I love watching God move in the lives of these country kids, and I am eternally grateful that I get to play apart.
Part of what I love about Chloe’s story is that she is a missionary working in her local school system. Sometimes we can assume a “missionary” is only those people who go somewhere far away from home, wear long skirts and hug orphan children.
We can have such an incomplete picture.
We do love orphan children and some of us are called to move far away (hey, some of us even wear long skirts on occasion), but the Great Commission is for everyone. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, police officers, politicians, moms and dads – everyone, if they take the call seriously, has an opportunity to be a missionary right where they are.
What’s your mission field? How are you able to reach people in your sphere of society?
*Read more about the spheres of society HERE.
5 years ago today was Day 1 of my Discipleship Training School. It was my second day in Australia, but it was my first day of lectures, first day of orientation, first day of a lot of “new”.
For several years, the idea of DTS was in the back of my head. A friend of mine had told me about YWAM and DTS back in 2003, and even though I didn’t think I would do it straight out of high school, I kept it in the back of my mind. I went to Uni, and my second year in, very quickly, God began speaking to me about missions. Later that year, I went on my first missions trip to Haiti, and it totally changed my life.
Fast forward. As I was finishing Uni and working at the Uni full-time, I was so restless. I knew I couldn’t stay there much longer, and I knew I wanted to do a DTS somewhere in the world. The idea of doing something so drastically different than what I was currently doing really scared me. I was restless enough to pursue it, however.
So there I was – 14 July 2009 – sitting in orientation, learning about YWAM Newcastle, getting a tour of the practically empty warehouse (the shipping containers were delivered on my DTS).
I remember I had my doubts that first week about it all.
I thought, “Wow…I have just uprooted my entire life. Did I do the right thing?” I was nervous because I didn’t know a single person. There were 15 including myself on my DTS – all from the US, Australia or New Zealand.
The next day we went into Base Worship, and something happened during that time that I will never forget. We were having worship, and I was observing an overall sense of freedom in the group. We weren’t sitting in rows, mindlessly singing the words on the screen. People were moving around, jumping – excited to worship their King.
Then, a girl I hadn’t met yet came up to me and said, “I feel like God wants to say some stuff right now to you…” She began telling me what she felt God was saying to her about me, and it was terrifying in the most wonderful way.
She said stuff that literally not a single person in the Universe knew at that point in my life. She was affirming my steps and the things God had been doing and wanted to do over the next 6 months. Tears streamed down my face, and I knew I was embarking on not just a good journey but the right journey.
5 years ago today I started my life as a missionary, and my life has never been the same.
I didn’t forsesee life being the way it is now, but then again, does it ever turn out exactly how we imagine? I am so thankful for God’s goodness and the incredible things that have happened in these past 5 years since I first came to Newcastle. They have far surpassed anything I could have imagined.
One thing I have discovered over the last 5 years being in YWAM is that each centre has its own unique flavour. I love YWAM Newcastle, and I am thankful for the unique things that make it YWAM Newcastle :)
Here are 5 Unique Things about YWAM Newie!
I had my 23rd birthday a month into my DTS, and I quickly realised that this is one of the most fun places to have a birthday. Not only do you have an entire army of people ready to say “Happy Birthday” and give you a hug, but there are intentional opportunities built in to make you feel special and loved on.
One particular activity built in for everyone’s birthday is a birthday table at dinner. We already have an incredible family-style dinner culture, and when your rock up on your birthday, one of the tables is all decked out for YOU! It can have any number of things on it to make it stand out, but it’s definitely for something special.
During dinner announcements everyone sings ‘Happy Birthday’ and then, generally, your leader will give a speech about you. After they affirm you like crazy, then you also have an opportunity to say something. Once all the speeches are done, it’s time to dig into a special cake or dessert for you and those sitting around you.
I really love this about our centre – that we really honour people during their birthdays. It’s so fun!
2. Working Bees
Every quarter before new students arrive, we always have a Working Bee. We have them other times in the year as well, particularly if we have a building team visiting or a big event coming up.
It may sound weird to mention working bees, but honestly, I really love this about YWAM Newie. We don’t assume it’s one person’s job or role to cleanup – we all come together and work together. We all have ownership over our facilities and take pride in making them look wonderful for people that come and visit. It’s usually a bit of fun as well!
3. Youth Street
Youth Street is a ministry that was started at YWAM Newcastle in 2004, and although other YWAM centres run Youth Street as well, it is unique to us for the pioneering aspect of it. We also run a second level school called the School of Innovative Youth Ministry.
Youth Street has a department of staff that work with youth throughout the week, going into high schools and doing lunch time programs and such. Then there is the Saturday program that includes more staff throughout the base, as well as the full time department. We invite young people from all over the city to come to our warehouse and join one of a number of teams. They go with these teams during the afternoon to do activities like surfing, skating, dance, etc. Then they come back and have dinner with us, and starting next week again, we’ll have a night program as well.
I was a part of Youth Street for the first few years I was here, and I absolutely loved it. I loved being able to see the crew grow and develop and gain confidence. I loved seeing them step out. I love that I still get to see them each week because our warehouse is nearly synonymous with “young people”.
4. Base Retreat
Every year the entire base gets together for “Base Retreat” – a three day camping trip! It’s a blast every year, even for this not-so-camper-ish girl ;)
For the past three years, we have gone to a place about 45 minutes away that has heaps of land with a creek along the back. We typically have a speaker for the three days, and generally speaking, this trip happens when the July and October quarters are transitioning, which means TONS of people. I absolutely love base retreat!
Another fun and unique thing about YWAM Newcastle is Christmas. Not the holiday in and of itself obviously, but the way we do it is so unique and fun that it’s totally YWAM Newcastle!
We are all given teams and roles over the weekend to make it all come together. For the past two years, I have been “Dasher” – emcee of the weekend! Jess was my partner in crime two years ago – “Dancer” – and last year, the lovely Kelcie joined me. We also have heaps of packages arriving from all over the world!
During the weekend there are about 100 stockings lining the stairs, we go to church all together on Christmas morning, followed by morning tea and secret santa, heaps of games in the afternoon, a BIG Christmas dinner and a hilarious talent show! Then, on Boxing Day (Dec 26), we all go to the beach together for the whole day and have a big BBQ. It’s so fun and inclusive and exciting!
So there are some wonderful and unique things about YWAM Newcastle. There are so many more, but it’s fun to think about the special things that make a place what it is!
It’s interesting to write a post like this about God’s power because it is displayed in so many ways. Often when we think of the word “power”, we automatically think big and bold and loud. Sometimes, though, as I have seen in missions, God’s power comes out so subtly or gently that it’s remarkable and unique.
Here are 5 brief stories about my time in missions so far. These are certainly not all of the stories, but I tried to think of ones that give a good picture of the many ways God displays His power.
Next to each story is an attribute of who God is to really highlight the way God’s power came through.
1. DTS Transformation – God’s Grace
This is a picture of God’s subtle power in my own life. I came to do DTS in 2009, and even though I couldn’t fully explain where I was at in the depths of my heart, God knew. He gently pursued me and challenged me over my DTS.
I had a very limited view of God, and He slowly but passionately and purposefully showed me just how big He was – that I would never be able to fully grasp His abundant beauty and character. My transformation was one from religion and striving to one of identity and grace. I am so thankful that God exerted His power and changed me and set me on this beautiful path that may not have otherwise happened, but I am really thankful that He did it from a perspective of knowing my heart better than anyone…of gently loving me and strengthening me in my trust of Him.
2. PNG Outreach – God’s “With-ness”
Nearly four years ago, I led a team to Papua New Guinea. I was the only leader, and honestly, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. That being said, it was also one of my most rewarding experiences, and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.
Within the first week, I became sick. Not only was I homesick – for familiarity, for my bed, for my friends, for someone else to make decisions with me – but I was literally sick as well. I have a journal during that time, and I am pretty sure I filled it entirely just during those first three weeks!
During this outreach, I learned what God means when He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you…” In the physical, I was “alone” as far as leading the team goes, but that was the only version of my “loneliness” because God was absolutely with me. He was present when I cried. He was present when I needed comfort. He was present when I needed a kick up the rear. He was present when I needed help making decisions.
He was present always.
I love that outreach for so many reasons, but the opportunity to experience the “withness” of God to that depth is my most favourite reason. There is power in our revelation of God always with us!
3. Brothel Ministry – God’s Hope
A couple years ago, I joined the team that goes out every week into the brothels in town. There have been many breakthroughs we have seen since this ministry started.
During my first year, we went out for our Christmas outreach, and I saw a woman that I had met the month before. She was such a lovely woman, and unlike many of the women I have met, she had an incredible hope for the future. She had plans to move and go to school to learn counselling, and she wanted to help young women in the industry.
On that Christmas outreach, I was able to give her a gift and pray for her – for her future and all that God has for her. I have never seen her again. I’ve asked others that I have seen, and they have said that she did in fact move. I don’t have any way of keeping in touch with her anymore, but I really believe God is going to use her and her story. (More of the story is here)
4. Car Campaign – God’s Provision
This is only one of a multitude of stories I have now of God providing in incredible ways. The particular reason I want to note this story, though, is because it was literally 100% God (not to say that every story isn’t God but you catch my drift right?).
Robbie and I were so busy over the month that God led us to do this campaign, and we had no time to “strive” for anything. We just took it step by step, asking God what to do, which in this case wasn’t very much given the season. We honestly weren’t sure what would happen, but God blew our minds.
He used so many people to provide – people who had never given to us before or people who tripled or quadrupled their largest gift. We were literally experiencing jaw-dropping moments nearly every few days, and at the end of the campaign, we had a new car. We had a car that will carry us into the years to come that is safe and reliable. It was incredible.
It showed me how much God cares for us. He doesn’t want us to have second best. He wants the best for His kids, and He will provide a way for it to happen.
5. Occupancy – God’s Miracles
This story is so recent that it still gives me chills. In 2008, YWAM Newcastle purchased a warehouse building with great vision and plans for its future. It was an empty shell when we bought it, and over the course of the past 6 years, a tremendous amount of work has been done to make it look the way it does today.
The past year or more, as we neared completion, it became a challenge to get final occupancy. We’d been able to use the warehouse for some things, but not everything. Everything meant student visas and youth street live at the warehouse and more. We prayed and prayed and prayed, and every time we thought we had it, something else came up.
It was a fight of perseverance – how long will you believe for something without losing hope?
May rolled around, and one morning, as we were all gathered together for worship, David jumped up with a paper in his hands – FINAL OCCUPANCY! It was shocking and wonderful and thrilling and celebratory. I kept wondering what it would feel like to just have it, but as per usual, it was nothing like what I imagined. It was such an incredible thing to persevere for. God did a miracle, and now so much more can happen here in this place.
In a week, Youth Street Live will kick off officially in our warehouse. That moment will be so wonderful!
There are so many ways God displays His power. He’s all-powerful. Sometimes we take that, though, and we forget everything else He is. Thinking about God’s power, in conjunction with everything else He is, is one of the most beautiful revelations. It’s perfect, holy, gentle yet strong power, and I am SO blessed to see it on display all the time!
How have you seen God’s power in your life?
For the Month of Missions, I wanted to be a bit creative and allow the blog to hear from other people about their experience in missions. So I asked for some wonderful volunteers to write about their time in missions and what God did. Today is my first guest blog!
Meet Rachel. Rachel is a lovely Kiwi girl (Kiwi = New Zealander), and she recently finished her DTS with YWAM. She is home in NZ now and has graciously sent me a bit of her story to share with you today :)
My missions life started with YWAM Newcastle Discipleship Training School, and at the time I had no idea it would ever extend any further than that. Throughout my DTS I went through a beautiful transformation. I was a very new Christian, and as a result, I took a very big hit to my confidence. I knew the old me was gone, so suddenly I had no idea about my identity, my purpose and how I was going to maintain a Christian life. Early on God implanted what would be the theme for my growth. We were praying and getting words for a pair. The leader standing before me looked at me and said “God says, he thinks you have a beautiful voice.”
As I went on, I grew in God and in knowledge. I learnt to rely on him for my strength and joy. I learnt to allow him to have an impact on my life decisions. Most importantly, though, I learnt to use my voice for him.
Our outreach was in the Philippines. I learnt fast that Filipinos were generally very shy.
Up front it seems a little silly to put a shy person in front of a shy crowd of people and anticipate good things.
Still somehow throughout outreach I spoke or shared to groups of people at least ten times. I spoke of God’s love, I spoke of faith, I spoke of loving others, I spoke on finding your strength in God, I spoke on the story of Ruth, and I even dug into my past and shared my story.
One group I shared with was a group of youth, who I lead for a volleyball ministry. Every day the youth would come, play volleyball, play ninja and then sit down and listen to myself or another leader speak. When it came to our sharing time, the youth became quiet and I struggled to get them to interact or answer even simple questions.
It was our last night at the location so all the ministry teams we had been running came together. The guy speaking gave the kids an opportunity to share what they had learnt. Seemingly out of the blue an 18-year-old girl stood up from the volleyball team. This wasn’t any girl…this was the shyest person from the team. She stood up and shared her very first testimony on all she had learnt. I couldn’t believe what I had heard. All during my speaking, she had been listening and God had transformed one shy girl through another shy girl. The result, two not so shy women.
I guess God could have left it there, but as God always tends to, he had a bigger plan for this growth. It didn’t matter what happened, throughout my time in the Philippines. If I was having doubts about myself, God would say, “That’s okay, but what about how you’re good at … Wouldn’t that be good for the director’s office on the base?” It took me a while to face this hint.
One night as I watched the moon disappear behind a storm I dared to ask God.
“What about my degree?”
“You’re worth more than a degree,” he replied.
It began to pour with rain, but I didn’t move. I bowed my head and said, “I get it now. I’ll do it.” It was that night I began to see how great God’s love truly was. He wasn’t concerned so much about what I was doing, but more about who I was becoming.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
5 years ago, I embarked upon this wonderful city. As I arrived in Sydney and began the journey up to Newcastle, I remember thinking, “This doesn’t look too much different than the states.” It had suburbs and houses all in a row. It had the occasional McDonalds (Maccas) and Subway. It had K-Mart. Cars. Mailboxes.
The next logical thing to ask me is what in the world I was expecting! Haha
I remember about a month into being in Australia, I took the bus one Monday morning into town by myself and just started to explore the city. At that point, I didn’t know that God was going to speak to me about coming back on staff, but I did know during that morning adventure that I really loved this city. I loved the cafes, the beaches – and I remember having this fleeting thought “I could live here.”
I could write an entire post about wonderful things in this city, but I’m just going to narrow down a few that I think make it distinct and an incredible mission field. (If you want some more specifics, check out this article.)
Here are 5 Things I Love About My Mission Field
1. Store and Business Hours
This may seem like such a small thing, but it’s something I noticed straight away. Places close. Most stores shut their doors each day at 5, some cafes close at 3, some places are closed on Sundays, whether by Christian values or not, and everyone is a-ok.
Coming from a country where everything stays open at every possible hour and on holidays (or parts of them) and Black Friday seems to start on Tuesday now – it’s refreshing to see a different priority here. The amazing thing is that no one seems phased by it, and maybe that’s because it’s been this way forever.
I remember mentioning to someone at home once that the malls here close at 5pm except for on Thursdays for “Late Night Shopping”, and they said, “When would you go shopping?!?!” It seemed such an incredulous idea to them that anyone should be ok with this, but I think it’s so brilliant.
Maybe it’s the hope of people going home and being with family. Maybe it’s the desire to prioritise other things in an otherwise materialistic world. I don’t know who thought of it or why this is the way it is here, but I do know I love this about Newcastle (and Australia really).
A big part of ministry here at our centre is geared towards youth, and although I don’t directly work with that ministry each week, I see youth all the time. They are so smart and funny and great people.
I love seeing them grow in our youth program. Just last week one of the teams performed a musical/play in front of all of us and some parents and guests, and one of the crew (our word for young people to be inclusive) had a main role that blew me away. I’ve seen this crew over the last couple years go from painfully shy to confident actor. After the production, I made him a hot chocolate and told him what a great job he did. He seemed so proud of his newest venture, and I cannot wait to see him continue to grow.
The young people here are passionate, and they love when people see them and include them. They want to be part of the team, and that’s what we are trying to do. Whether I am doing that ministry full-time or not, I really love the young people in this city!
3. Healthy Culture
Another thing I quickly noticed about Australia is an overall desire to be healthy. No, it’s not perfect here. There are still McDonalds every few blocks and plenty of junk food to go around.
The main difference though is the dining out culture. You have fast food, fast casual and sit-down restaurants. In the States, you have all of those, but I think there are two categories with sit-down restaurants – 1) chain & fast sit-down (i.e. Chiles, TGI Fridays, etc.) and 2) proper sit-down restaurants, which aren’t typically chains.
In Australia, if you go to a restaurant or cafe, you’ll get great food. Incredible salads full of flavours (shoutout to Goldbergs’ amazing Kumera salad!), wonderful meats, vegetables and more. There’s a general care for what you eat and tasting the richest of flavours.
I appreciate that there is a value of that in Newcastle, whether or not it’s in every place at every moment. It’s still very real, and it’s something I’ve noticed from the beginning of my time here.
To top that off, there’s a great exercise culture – runners outside, surfing, bike riding. It’s great. The gyms are certainly not as “affordable” as in the States, but other than that, it’s a great “fit” city!
4. Surfers, Hipsters, Businessmen, and More
There is a great diversity of people here. I am not necessarily referring to ethnicity, although there is a bit of that, but more “types” of people. There is a much broader diversity of ethnicity in Sydney.
In Newcastle, though, you will walk along the beach with the surfers to your left and look up to the street lined with cafes and hipsters making coffees. Approaching the cafes, you’ll see men and women in business suits grabbing their coffee on the go.
There are athletes and fashionistas. There are families with children. There are teenagers. And musicians.
There are so many categories of people, and I love that they all fit in this city and live and work alongside one another.
5. Church Unity
Another thing that was apparent within the first few months of living here was that churches here work together, not in competition. There are many events that happen yearly that are church events…as in the broader word “church”, not a specific one. I love this. It’s apparent that
everyone is keeping the main thing the main thing – reach the city of Newcastle.
It’s funny how caught up we get in things that only take us away from the main thing. Robbie says that we need to remember that the distance between what we agree on is much shorter than the distance between what we disagree on and that’s good. It’s good because it creates unity and framework to working together.
Rick Prosser, a local Christian pastor in Newcastle, leads Kingdom Works, which is a huge catalyst for this unity in our city. Here is the vision:
Kingdomworks Inc. is primarily a catalyst for unity and mission in our region. It is about serving and connecting the body of Christ towards the cause of Christ, that we see a region won to Christ. We believe firmly that a united church will usher a sovereign move of God in our region!
I love that our churches work together, and I think it has majorly strengthened what God is doing in the city. Just last year, all the churches in Newcastle came together for City Serve, a yearly opportunity to gather and serve the community, and we redid all of the surf clubs, which obviously affect a lot more people than just Christians. It was amazing to see the unity within all the churches, as well as the effect on our city!
I could write so much more about this city that I love. I have come to love it more and more as I have lived here and met more people and saw more of it. God is moving, and even in this western country, He is needed.